Thomas Stafford (rebel)

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Thomas Stafford
Bornc. 1533
Died28 May 1557 (aged 23–24)
Noble family Stafford
Father Henry Stafford, 1st Baron Stafford
Mother Ursula Pole

The Hon. Thomas Stafford (c. 1533 – 28 May 1557) was the ninth child of Henry Stafford, 1st Baron Stafford and Ursula Pole. He was involved in two rebellions against Queen Mary I and was executed for treason in 1557.

Henry Stafford, 1st Baron Stafford English Baron

Henry Stafford, 1st Baron Stafford was born in Penshurst, Kent, eldest son of Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham and Eleanor Percy, Duchess of Buckingham. Eleanor was the daughter of Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland and Maud Herbert, Countess of Northumberland. After his father's execution he managed to regain some of his family's position and he was created Baron Stafford in 1547.

Mary I of England Queen of England and Ireland

Mary I, also known as Mary Tudor, was the Queen of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death. She is best known for her aggressive attempt to reverse the English Reformation, which had begun during the reign of her father, Henry VIII. The executions that marked her pursuit of the restoration of Roman Catholicism in England and Ireland led to her denunciation as "Bloody Mary" by her Protestant opponents.


Early life

Thomas Stafford was the ninth child and second surviving son of Henry Stafford, 1st Baron Stafford and Ursula Pole. Little is known of his early life, first being mentioned in 1550 as he travelled to Rome, where he associated with his uncle Reginald Cardinal Pole. He spent three years in Italy before travelling to Poland, obtaining the recommendation of King Sigismund Augustus who requested Mary restore him to the Dukedom of Buckingham. [1]


Augustus's appeal appeared to have no effect. When Stafford returned to England in January 1554 he joined the rebellion led by Thomas Wyatt; this arose out of concern of Mary's determination to marry Philip II of Spain. The rebellion failed and Thomas was captured and briefly imprisoned in the Fleet Prison before fleeing to France. There, he intrigued with other English exiles and continued to promote his claim to the English throne. [1]

Philip II of Spain King of Spain and King of England by marriage to Mary I

Philip II of Spain was King of Spain (1556–98), King of Portugal, King of Naples and Sicily, and jure uxoris King of England and Ireland. He was also Duke of Milan. From 1555 he was lord of the Seventeen Provinces of the Netherlands.

Fleet Prison 12th-century prison in London

Fleet Prison was a notorious London prison by the side of the River Fleet. The prison was built in 1197, was rebuilt several times, and was in use until 1844. It was demolished in 1846.

On 18 April 1557 (Easter Sunday) Stafford sailed from Dieppe with two ships and over 30 men. Landing in Scarborough on 25 April 1557, he walked into the unprotected castle and proclaimed himself Protector of the Realm, [2] attempting to incite a new revolt by denouncing the Spanish marriage, railed against increased Spanish influence and promised to return the crown 'to the trewe Inglyshe bloude of our owne naterall countrye'. [1] [3] [4] Stafford claimed he had seen letters at Dieppe showing that Scarborough and 12 other castles would be given to Philip II and garrisoned with 12,000 Spanish soldiers before his coronation. [5] Three days later, the Earl of Westmorland recaptured the castle and arrested Stafford and his companions.

Dieppe Subprefecture and commune in Normandy, France

Dieppe is a coastal community in the Arrondissement of Dieppe in the Seine-Maritime department in the Normandy region of northern France. The population stood at 29,606 in 2016.

Scarborough, North Yorkshire town in North Yorkshire, England

Scarborough is a town on the North Sea coast of North Yorkshire, England. Historically part of the North Riding of Yorkshire, the town lies between 10–230 feet above sea level, rising steeply northward and westward from the harbour on to limestone cliffs. The older part of the town lies around the harbour and is protected by a rocky headland.

Scarborough Castle medieval castle overlooking Scarborough, North Yorkshire

Scarborough Castle is a former medieval Royal fortress situated on a rocky promontory overlooking the North Sea and Scarborough, North Yorkshire, England. The site of the castle, encompassing the Iron Age settlement, Roman signal station, an Anglo-Scandinavian settlement and chapel, the 12th-century enclosure castle and 18th-century battery, is a scheduled monument of national importance.


Stafford was beheaded for treason on 28 May 1557 on Tower Hill, after imprisonment in the Tower of London. Thirty-two of his followers were also executed after the rebellion. [6]

Tower Hill hill and neighbourhood in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets

Tower Hill is a complex city or garden square northwest of the Tower of London, in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets just outside the City of London boundary yet inside what remains of the London Wall — a large fragment of which survives toward its east.

Tower of London A historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London

The Tower of London, officially Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, is a historic castle located on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, which is separated from the eastern edge of the square mile of the City of London by the open space known as Tower Hill. It was founded towards the end of 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest of England. The White Tower, which gives the entire castle its name, was built by William the Conqueror in 1078 and was a resented symbol of oppression, inflicted upon London by the new ruling elite. The castle was used as a prison from 1100 until 1952, although that was not its primary purpose. A grand palace early in its history, it served as a royal residence. As a whole, the Tower is a complex of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a moat. There were several phases of expansion, mainly under kings Richard I, Henry III, and Edward I in the 12th and 13th centuries. The general layout established by the late 13th century remains despite later activity on the site.


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  1. 1 2 3 Thomas Stafford, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, accessed 17 January 2010
  2. John Cole, Scarborough Guide, accessed 17 January 2010
  3. Scarborough Castle, English Heritage accessed 17 January 2010
  4. The borough of Scarborough British History Online, accessed 17 January 2010
  5. Strype, John, Ecclesiastical Memorials, vol. 3 part 2, (1822), 67–9, 513–519, prints Stafford and Mary's proclamations, and names 31 of Stafford's party, and where executed.
  6. Strype, John, Ecclesiastical Memorials, (1822), 69.